Monday

1st May 2017

Focus

EU to Poland: artists should be free to 'shock'

  • Behemoth at work: what is art anyway? (Photo: Metal Chris)

The European Commission has said that Poland's prosecution of a rock group for "blasphemy" is against European values.

It said on Wednesday (31 October) in a written statement for EUobserver that "national blasphemy laws are a matter for the domestic legal order of the member states."

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

But it added that EU countries must respect international pacts.

It cited the European Convention of Human Rights, a Poland-signatory treaty attached to the Strasbourg-based rights watchdog, the Council of Europe, on freedom of expression.

"This right protects not only information or ideas that are favourably received or regarded as inoffensive or as a matter of indifference, but also those that offend, shock or disturb," the commission said.

The statement comes amid a row in Poland over a heavy metal band called Behemoth.

Its lead singer, Adam Darski, while on stage in 2007, ripped up a Bible and called the Roman Catholic church a "murderous cult."

In a case with echoes of Pussy Riot in Russia or Mohammed cartoons in Denmark, the Polish supreme court on Monday said prosecutors can go after Darski on the basis of article 196 of Poland's penal code on "the crime of offending religious sensibilities."

In theory, he faces two years in prison. But nobody expects a jail sentence if he loses.

"[The decision] is negative and restricts the freedom of speech ... We are still arguing that we were dealing with art, which allows more critical and radical statements," Darski's lawyer, Jacek Potulski, told Reuters.

"The supreme court said clearly that there are limits for artists which cannot be crossed," Ryszard Nowak, a former MP for the right-wing Law and Justice opposition party, said on Polish TV.

Culture in figures: Nordics most engaged

In general in Europe, those in the north are more culturally savvy than those in the south, if statistics are anything to go by. But there are some outliers.

Culture: 'A new wind is blowing in Europe'

Faced with falling ticket sales, cultural institutions in Europe should be looking both for ways to reach new audiences and keep existing audiences on board, according to the European Commission.

Art to protest politics in Spanish town

In early 2012, Pablo Lag stood in front of an abandoned, half-constructed house in Alicante and kicked in the door. Inside, he began work on an art exhibition “to make people in the world know what is happening in Spain.”

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCharlotte Hornets' Nicolas Batum Tells Kids to "Eat Well, Drink Well, Move!"
  2. ECR GroupSyed Kamall: We Need a New, More Honest Relationship With Turkey
  3. Counter BalanceParliament Sends Strong Signal to the EIB: Time to Act on Climate Change
  4. ACCARisks and Opportunities of Blockchain and Shared Ledgers Technologies in Financial Services
  5. UNICEFRace Against Time to Save Millions of Lives in Yemen
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersDeveloping Independent Russian-Language Media in the Baltic Countries
  7. Swedish EnterprisesReform of the European Electricity Market: Lessons from the Nordics, Brussels 2 May
  8. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  9. Counter BalanceCall for EU Commission to Withdraw Support of Trans-Adriatic Pipeline
  10. ACCAEconomic Confidence at Highest Since 2015
  11. European Federation of Allergy and Airways60%-90% of Your Life Is Spent Indoors. How Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Affect You?
  12. European Gaming and Betting AssociationCJEU Confirms Obligation for a Transparent Licensing Process